I hope I’m this sprightly at age 70

The Cute Boy™ and I have been talking a lot lately about the subject of aging. Not that either of us are all that old, but both of us are old enough to start pondering our own mortality. Cold weather brings creaky joints that didn’t used to creak. “My back hurts” replaces “I’m so hungover” in my vernacular. I suppose this doesn’t get better as the years pass by. (and, have you noticed, the years are passing more quickly than ever?)

So with aching knees and cold hands wrapped around a coffee mug, I read an article in the Albuquerque Tribune (now with a buyer!) about Merle Haggard. Now, I’m a longtime fan of Merle. You know how some musicians comprise part of the soundtrack of your life? That’s Merle to me. “Silver Wings” brings up a *very* specific memory (and if my best friend in the whole wide world is reading this, she knows exactly which memory I’m talkin’ about). “My Favorite Memory” is another fave…and one of the few songs I learned to play on acoustic guitar. Merle doesn’t play deep or complicated guitar chords. He doesn’t need to. His lyrics can, with an economy of words, cut right to the heart. He is indeed a poet, as the Trib article points out.

So how do I tie all this together? My aching joints and Merle?

Well, at age 70, Merle is making a new album. It’s a bit of a departure for him. He’s doing a disc of bluegrass music, all original songs, which I think is amazing. He’s got a voice made for country, and now hardened by time, I imagine bluegrass will suit him well.

After decades in the business, he’s still got The Muse running in his veins. At an age where he’s made enough music and money to retire, he can’t. The words still flow.

“I guess the reason for writing songs is to make money,” Haggard said, “but then you go back and say, `I’d like to write a song that will be remembered forever.’ That’s more interesting to me than the checks, even.”

It’s a rare bit of integrity in the music market. And memorable songs are what Haggard has done.

This line kills me…it’s so right on, at least to my way of thinking:

“I like to write something that you can photograph. If there’s no picture there, what’s your album cover or your CD cover going to be? In most cases, you’ll find it’s just a picture of the artist, because they don’t have a picture, and it’s kind of sad.”

I may not be a musician, but I’m a writer, a lover of words, and I work real hard at putting words together in such a way that someone who reads them can see a picture. Merle not only creates these pictures, but lasting images that stay in the mind. That, my friends, is pure talent.

“…You can’t have any emotional songs anymore; they won’t play them. Someone might look up from their computer, and they don’t want that. It might disturb somebody. And it all sounds like water to me. . . .”

And at age 70, he’s rasty as ever. Love it. He’s even planning a tour to support this new album…having just come off a tour.

I can only hope/pray/dream/beg that I’m as full of The Muse, the energy and the drive at age 70.

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